We’ve all been waiting with baited breath for the last few months to see the new draft specification for teaching from September 2008 and on the 30th (a whole day before the deadline and well before AQA ;) ) they were released to the masses. So, what does this mean for us? Here is a brief overview of what’s changed (well at least in the draft – it wont be finalised until summer).
First, the biggest change is that there will only be four exams over the entire A level course (two for AS) with the structure of the exams changing too. At AS the students will be sitting one exam which will question them on the core studies (more about these later) in several types of question, and a methodology exam (no more PIF’s though – be that good or bad). The A2 course is now going to have 4 options from which candidates/centers have to select 2.
G542: Core Studies: 2 hour exam
Candidates build knowledge and understanding of 15 psychology studies, demonstrating evaluation skills and an appreciation of wider psychological approaches/perspectives, theories, issues and debates. Candidates make comparisons and distinctions between core studies and examine the broader context of general debates within psychology.
G541: Psychological Investigations: 1 hour exam
Candidates become familiar with four techniques for collecting/analysing data: self-report, experiment, observation, correlation.
So, the basic structure is the same, core studies to give an understanding of psychological concepts, perspectives and evaluative skills, and a methodology paper. The core studies are changing though – from 20 to 15 and three new ones thrown in for good measure.
The Core Studies
The new set of 15 core studies are still split into the familiar 5 areas but there are now only three studies in each area. Those studies which are going have
lines through them, the new ones are in italics.
- Loftus & Palmer (1974)
- Baron-Cohen, Jolliffe, Mortimore, and Robertson (1997) or text based PDF here
Baron-Cohen, Leslie and Frith (1985) Deregowski (1972)
- Gardner & Gardner (1969)
- Samuel & Bryant (1984)
- Bandura, Ross, and Ross (1961)
Hodges & Tizzard (1989)
- Freud (1909)
- Griffiths (1994) or text based PDF here
Hraba & Grant (1970)
- Rosenhan (1973)
- Thigpen & Cleckley (1954)
- Maguire, Gadian, Johnsrude, Good, Ashburner, Frackowiak & Frith (2000) or text based PDF here
Schacter & Singer (1962)
- Dement & Kleitman (1957)
- Sperry (1968)
- Milgram (1963)
- Zimbardo, et al. (1973)
- Piliavin (1969)
You can make your own mind up about the studies – personally I think that they’ve got quite a good selection of them and it will be interesting to start teaching some new studies.
A further change, as noted above, to the first year is the type and number of exams that the students will take. To see example exam papers see here.
The biggest change in the A2 course is the modules that are being taught – they are becoming more applied and related to fields in psychology as set out by the BPS. The four modules to choose from are now: forensic psychology; health and clinical psychology; psychology of education; and psychology of sport and exercise. These specialist choice modules will be examined in one paper lasting 2 hours.
Further to many requests it now seems that the specification is almost telling us what studies to use in each of the topic areas which will come as a relief to some who were confused about what studies examiners were looking for when marking.
Students will now also be examined on methodology in the second year: “…This unit is made up of two parts: a) research methods (design of a practical project) and b) structured questions bringing together approaches, perspectives, methods, issues and debates covered throughout the course.”
Here is a little graph to give an idea of the weighting of the four modules in a full A level course.
Use the comments system to discuss the new specification and your thoughts on the changes made. As you would expect more detailed information is available on the OCR website.